Hitch for £85 million Glen Parva secure college scheme as council refuses park access road

Source: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Setback-85-million-Glen-Parva-secure-college/story-24774984-detail/story.html

By Dan J Martin

Rory Palmer and Virginia Cleaver at Eyres Monsell Park

Government plans for a secure college at Glen Parva have suffered a setback after city councillors refused permission for it to build a temporary road across a park.

The Ministry of Justice has been granted planning permission by Blaby District Council for the £85 million complex next to the existing Glen Parva Young Offender Institution.

It wanted the temporary road across Eyres Monsell Park, within the Leicester city boundary, so construction traffic could access the site.

However last night Leicester City Council’s planning committee members rejected the scheme unanimously.

Planning officers had suggested the road be approved because the park land could be restored after construction ended.

Had it been approved, the Ministry of Justice would have been given up to three years to have the road on the park.

Committee chairman councillor Patrick Kitterick said Eyres Monsell was a part of the city that had been identified as short of green space.

He told the meeting at the Town Hall: “The effect of a road will scour the whole park. It will cut the park in half.

“Would you let your kids play in a park with lorries running across it?

“I think people just won’t use the park.

“I am not particularly impressed that permission will last at least three years.”

More than 200 residents had signed a petition, started by ward councillors Rory Palmer and Virginia Cleaver, against the road.

Councillor Cleaver said having road across the park was a ridiculous idea and would have been an “accident waiting to happen.”

Coun Palmer said Hillsborough Road, from where the temporary road would enter the park, was a key rout with three schools nearby.

He said: “We made our arguments and its clear what the committee thought.

“They made a reasonable decision on sound grounds.”

He said the ministry had mad no attempt to engage with the local community and councillors over the plan.”

He said the construction traffic ought to use the existing entrance into the young offenders institution.

The Government may appeal against the refusal.

Justice Minister Andrew Selous said: “We are disappointed by the refusal of planning permission for the temporary access road for construction of the secure college.

“We will now consider our options and work with Leicester City Council to resolve outstanding issues with this application.”

The secure college, dubbed a fortified school, will be the first of its kind in the county.

It will hold up 320 children aged between 12 and 17.

The Howard League for Penal Reform has opposed the idea of secure colleges.